If you are an entrepreneur these days, or if you’re trying to grow an existing business, everyone is telling you to use social media. There are many “experts” out there telling you how to do it. Some are even offering their services. But very few are talking about how to measure your results and what the right metrics are for optimizing your marketing environment.
Jim Sterne, who has written many books on Internet advertising, marketing and customer service, tackled this complex world of social media metrics in his book, Social Media Metrics. He has one of the first books on this subject, and he breaks the process down into 9 steps:
1. Get focused and identify goals.
Social media is the realm of public opinion and customer conversations. If you don’t have a clear idea of why you are there, anything you measure will be useless. He suggests you begin with the “big 3” business objectives: higher revenue, reduced costs and improved customer satisfaction.
2. Get attention and reach your audience.
Measuring message delivery in social media is a lot like measuring it in classic advertising, thus classic metrics apply. With social media, it is also important to identify how many people see your message as remarkable. That leads to the extra reach of word-of-mouth, commenting and telling friends.
3. Measure respect and find influencers.
Your task now includes reaching key influencers and understanding their impact. Therein lies the multiplier effect. Your message multiplier velocity and reach are the signals that your offerings have the right scope, spread quickly and resonate with your target audience.
4. Track the emotional sentiment.
Counting is fine, but analyzing the outpouring of millions of souls can reveal attitudinal shifts. Tracking public sentiment over time provides invaluable insight and gives you the chance to stay right on top of changes in the marketplace and your organization’s brand equity.
5. Measure customer response and action.
If they read it and like it, do they click through to your website or engage with your organization in new and different ways? Action is when people are drawn into a profitable and sustainable relationship with your company. That’s where the money is.
6. Get the message from your customer.
With the customer in control, you need to make sure you are getting the right message from the right people at the right time. That’s real-time market research, and you need to measure how well you are hearing it and acting on it in your business strategy planning.
7. Drive business outcomes and get results.
Now it’s time to cycle back around to measuring what sort of business impact your efforts are having. Measure to see if you have an increase in revenue, a lowering of costs and an improvement in customer satisfaction. Then it’s time to reexamine your goals to look beyond the “big 3.”
8. Get buy-in from your colleagues.
Some executives are slow to understand and embrace new communications methods. Use your results to convince them that social media is a vital part of your marketing mix and deserves the resources necessary for proper implementation and measurement.
9. Project the future.
Start to look at where social media will be in 2 to 10 years, and prepare for it. Don’t let the changes take your organization by surprise or allow your organization to be the last to implement and measure in the new world.
The tools to help you with all these actions are still evolving. You can scan the Internet for the many offerings to gather data, but the evaluation of the “why” behind the results is still largely manual. That’s the insight you need to support your efforts to reach higher performance goals. The sooner you find these insights, the quicker you can make better decisions to positively enhance your bottom line.